July 10th, 2008
03:10 PM ET
14 years ago

McCain: 'Phil Gramm does not speak for me'

BELLEVILLE, Michigan (CNN) –- John McCain forcefully repudiated comments by his national campaign co-chair Phil Gramm Thursday, telling reporters, “Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me.”

Gramm had said in a newspaper interview that the country is merely in a “mental recession,” and called America a “nation of whiners” when it comes to the slumping economy.

Campaigning in the economically lagging state of Michigan – which suffers from has the highest unemployment rate in the nation – McCain held a press conference and quickly disavowed Gramm’s remarks.

“I don’t agree with Sen. Gramm,” McCain said. “I believe that the person here in Michigan that just lost his job isn’t suffering a mental recession. I believe the mother here in Michigan and around America who is trying to get enough money to educate their children isn’t whining.”

“Phil Gramm does not speak for me,” he said. “I speak for me.”

Democrats immediately seized on Gramm’s comments. Barack Obama, attacked both McCain and Gramm at a campaign event in Virginia, saying: “America already has one Dr. Phil. We don’t need another one when it comes to the economy.”

McCain responded to those comments with another pop culture reference which has become one of his favorite lines on the stump.

“He is Dr. No,” McCain said of Obama, before listing a series of energy policy proposals, such as expanding nuclear energy and offshore drilling, that the Illinois senator has opposed.

Filed under: John McCain • Phil Gramm
soundoff (384 Responses)
  1. S. Boatman Warrensburg Mo.


    July 10, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  2. Shawna

    Gram was a bad decision on McCains part, because I am sure that he has expressed these views before...McCain has said you don't chose your family but you do chose your pastor, I believe his choice of economic advisors goes along with that line of reasoning.

    July 10, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  3. Steve

    Exactly who does speak for you Mr. McCain? Is it your Bush Conservative side or your so called "Maverick" side? We have a hard time telling the difference. The truth is you are neither a Conservative or a Maverick but just an old guy with tired old ideas. I hope all Americans will join me in November in honoring your distinguished military career by returning you to the senate.

    July 10, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  4. Venus


    Yeah – it's McSame's week to fkip a little and distance himself from his main adviser!!! No other McSame is out of touch! Well McSame... I think you should cut Gramm lose! Ha,ha,haaaaa!

    July 10, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  5. Rich

    So then he's your economic adviser because he doesn't speak for you? Isn't he the guy you go to when you are asked about the economy? What?! Did you just do another flip flop on your support for your own guy!?! I can't even wrap my mind around how stupid this is!

    July 10, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  6. dru

    But you have him as your advisor...so what does that say about your judgement as commander and chief?

    July 10, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  7. JA Cook

    Hmmm, seems that when General Clark praised McCain's military record but concluded saying that such a record doesn't qualify one for being President, McCain was all over Obama and the Obama campaign, demanding that he denounce and dismiss Clark.

    So, can we expect McCain to ditch Gramm. After all, besides his whiner remarks, Gramm has been extremely responsible for creating the nation's financial crisis.

    Stay the Course, John?

    July 10, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  8. Goldie

    McCain is a conservative. People forget that. Conservatives don't believe in helping people out of luck. They don't like Social Security. They don't like any programs for working people. They believe the wealthy and the corporations should have free reign and tough luck on the regular folks. Why the surprise over what McCain's economic advisor said? This is what people like McCain really believe. He is rich. He is out of touch with regular people. Like Bush, he just pretends to be a regular guy, but that is not who he is.

    July 10, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  9. LMAO

    It's convenient for you to say that he doesn't speak for you now, but you weren't saying that before. How ironic. And what does your characterization of Obama as "Dr. No" have to do with these comments. You only mention that in a failed attempt to deflect from what is obviously a weakness for you...the economy. Keep talking about Iraq Mr. McWar and see how far that gets you. Lastly, please stop accusing Obama of being an elitist while you're building a "Straight BS Express" aircraft that most americans couldn't afford over a lifetime. You can't relate to me and you never will. I'm a young, educated man of color (it doesn't matter which color I am) and I've never served a day in the military...you have nothing I want to hear.

    July 10, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  10. D&D

    Yeah, he doesn't speak for you, so why is he your TOP economic adviser and campaign co-chairman? Just for the title? Come one papy!

    July 10, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  11. Nick, Columbus, OH

    Johnny, when you pay someone, and list them as a PART of your campaign. They do speak for you. Or else they speak for themselves and you FOLLOW their lead.

    When is Maverick war hero McCain going to get off the couch and actually participate in this race for himself? If this is how he runs a campaign, I am not sure I want to see him try to run a country

    July 10, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  12. Bill in San Jose

    Oh but he does speak for you Senator McCain. Please give Phil our best!

    July 10, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  13. Wayne from Lawrenceville, ga

    This is from McCain's campaign's Co-Chair and Top Economic Advisor. Yes, he speaks for McCain. Yes, he speaks for the campaign. Let's hope the MSM does not let him off the hook. This should be the cover story on CNN.com

    July 10, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  14. Eli, Ohio

    Phil Gramm doesn't speak for John McCain? He is not only a McCain surrogate, he is the top Economic Advisor for Senator McCain! How can he look Americans in the eye and say that Phil Gramm doesn't speak for him. What kind of political operation does McCain have going on? Does John McCain honestly not know who his Top Advisors are or what they are saying?

    How can ANYONE from the McCain campaign suggest that we are just "mental" about our perception of the economy. How out of touch do you have to be to suggest that the millions suffering through $4.50 a gallon gas, or $4 for a gallon or milk, or savings drying up, or paying our electric bills with credit cards, or losing their homes to foreclosure, are just whining about a "mental recession"???

    July 10, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  15. S. Boatman Warrensburg Mo.

    You Are Not Gonna Seperate Yourself From This Mccain . . . We Know This Is What You Think!

    July 10, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  16. Major Michael Lorton, Virginia

    I think McCain and Graham need to make an psychological appointment with the psychologist who is treating Dr. Phil.

    July 10, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  17. CPJ

    BTW – How does a guy who lives in 10 different homes, with full servants on staff, who never buys groceries, or gas or has to pay any of his own bills understand ANYTHING about what the average person is going threw. McCain is FAR to priviledged for me to trust him. I want a guy who knows what its like to struggle for health care and student loans.

    July 10, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  18. Truely a Democrat

    If Obama has to make a public remark for everything that someone else he knows has stated then so should YOU!!! You are not above the fray...

    Obama 08

    July 10, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  19. candi California

    Talk about snobs! O well that is what the Republican bunch is. What was said is what they beleive. I mean after all those like McCain and Grahm have not lost much sleep worring about money during their lifetime. It's like bush not knowing the price of gas. War and greed is all the republicans have stood for over the years. McCain thinks social security is outrageous. Much like vetran benefits. I don't remember him refusing to take our money in the form of retirement, or pay for NOT ATTENDING to our business in Washington. O well I suppose this is all whine.

    July 10, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  20. S. Boatman Warrensburg Mo.


    July 10, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  21. MikeH

    No John McCain, he doesn't speak for you, he speaks for your campaign, because you Mr McCain are merely a puppet of the plutocrats who have been systematically looting America's national treasures.

    You Mr McCain don't have a clue on economics, you have hired as your economic adviser a dismal and corrupt man, Phil Graham ("Dr. Phil") because you were told to by the plutocrats in order to get their support.

    If, tragically, you should be elected, the plutocrats will continue their plunder and destruction of America while you look stupidly on, much like your predcessor, George Bush II, and whose policies you will continue.

    You Mr McCain should apologize for your campaign, fire Mr Graham, and call for an investigation of Mr Graham's ties to UBS. You should, but you won't, because you Mr McCain are too ignorant of economics, and of a lot of other things.

    July 10, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  22. D in Phoenix

    If there is an Olympic sport that features throwing people under the bus, my bet for the gold is Johnny B. McSame. Let's see, the radio talk host in Cincy, Hagee, Parsley and now the guy who wrote the campaign's economic platform.

    John, take a breath, we can't count the victims quickly enough . America, if you vote for this guy, you can count yourself among the victims.

    July 10, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    top economic advisor.....
    thinks our problems are all in our head....
    we're just a bunch of whiners.....

    But he doesn't speak for McCain?????

    I really wish it was November 15th and this was all over.....McCain is actually starting to scare me.....

    July 10, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  24. Allan

    Well, this probably won't get posted either, but what the hell... If you Republicans manage by some freak accident to win in November, don't be too surprised when there are a few (thousand) we-told-you-so moments. God help the country if that should happen.

    July 10, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  25. Enlightened Voter

    Yeah sure you don't John, he is just your national campaign co-chair. Why should we believe he speaks for you????????

    July 10, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
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